Thousands of cyclists are injured in Canada each year — here’s how to stay safe while riding a bike

Innovative new invisible bike helmet makes its way to Canada.
Innovative new invisible bike helmet makes its way to Canada. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

As southern Alberta creeps into its summer months, many people are gearing up to hit the roads or trails on their bikes.

“There [are] lots of new cyclists out there this year,” said co-owner of Ascent Cycle Adam Duell. “I live on the bike boulevard and the bikes going up and down is amazing.”

Duell said his shop in Lethbridge is open year-round but business has picked up quite a lot over the last couple of weeks. He suspects the increased interest has some correlation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With all the activities cancelled like soccer and baseball, kids need something to do to stay happy and healthy. A bike is a good way to maintain that,” he said.

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Although a fun activity, it can also come with risks.

According to the Canadian Automobile Association and Statistics Canada, around 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured in Canada each year, with most crashes and incidents occurring during the afternoon rush hour.

To stay as safe as possible, Duell emphasized the importance of proper clothing.

“Off-road, you’re going to want to maybe have knee pads, gloves, things like that to protect yourself from falling,” he explained.

“On the road, the other important thing is the colour of the clothing. You don’t want to be wearing those dark colours that blend into the background.”

One out of three cyclist deaths occur at night or where there is artificial lighting, according to officials, so Duell recommended wearing vibrant colours and reflective attire.

For new riders, understanding the different types and sizes of bikes is important, he said.

“Ride the bike that fits you and ride the bike that fits the situation,” Duell said. “You definitely don’t want to be riding a city or a road bike for off-road use, so use a mountain bike.” 

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Duell added that the side of the road is the safest place to be and everyone should always wear a helmet.

“Number one rule is wear a helmet; you look way better with one on,” he said.

Laws for helmet use vary across Canada, with Alberta requiring anyone under the age of 18 to wear an approved bicycle safety helmet while riding a bike; Manitoba and Ontario have similar requirements.

In British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, the use of bicycle helmets is compulsory for all ages.

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